Lewis Hamilton remains steadfast in his view that the title race in 2021, which he lost on the final lap of the season finale in Abu Dhabi, was manipulated. The Briton was favourite to claim a record-breaking eighth Formula 1 Drivers' title before he was beaten to it by Max Verstappen.

The Red Bull Racing driver claimed his maiden world title last season, and it came under highly controversial circumstances. Michael Masi, who was the race director at the time, applied his own interpretation of the safety car rules in the final race in Abu Dhabi in order to ensure the race did not end behind the safety car.

The FIA later admitted that it was an error on the part of Masi, who was relieved of his post after heavy protests from Mercedes. Both Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and Hamilton were furious in those crucial moments, screaming into the radio about the race being manipulated to help Red Bull and Verstappen.

The seven-time world champion has not changed his views almost a year later, and continues to maintain that his eighth drivers' crown was stolen from him. Hamilton was asked about the manner of his defeat by former F1 driver Timo Glock, in comparison to his first Drivers' World Title in 2008.

Hamilton beat then Ferrari driver Felipe Massa to the title after a late pass on Glock at the Brazilian Grand Prix. The latter had crossed the line first, and was celebrating the title with his team before the former, who was with McLaren at the time, overtook Glock three turns before the chequered flag.

It was jubilation in the McLaren camp, while the Ferrari garage was deflated by the turn of events. Glock asked Hamilton if there were any similarities from that season to 2021, when it went from celebration to heartbreak in an instant for Mercedes.

"No, it was different. [2008] was not manipulated by anybody," Hamilton told Glock, as per ESPN. "Someone made the decision for the [2021's] result to be the way it was basically."

Verstappen and Red Bull maintain that the Dutchman was the deserving winner despite trailing Hamilton by over 10 seconds before the safety car incident. Mercedes, however, are still not convinced and are insisting that Hamilton is the rightful champion.

Lewis Hamilton
Max Verstappen won an epic season-long battle with reigning champion Lewis Hamilton ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP